Thunder coach Scott Brooks said he’s been pleased with the development of second-year point guard Russell Westbrook and his play through the first week of training camp. Brooks credited Westbrook for his commitment to playing with the team in summer league and said Friday that he’s noticed growth in Westbrook’s game. "He’s a better player,” Brooks said. "Russell’s going to improve for a lot of years. He’s not a finished product. He’s 20 years old and has the chance to get better for the next 10 years. And he will get better. He’s an athletic young point guard that challenged himself all summer to improve. And I see the improvement. We have to continue to work with him to get better. He has a nice feel. He’s not playing as fast, and he’s comfortable out there. I’m happy with the way he’s been playing so far.”
HARDEN HOPING TO PLAY IN PRESEASON OPENERRookie James Harden took part in more drills Friday after sitting out with a sprained ankle Wednesday and Thursday. Harden said the ankle is progressing well but still stings when he pushes off of it. He worked on mobility drills and did some catch-and-shoot work throughout Friday’s first session. Harden is still listed as day-to-day, but he said he "definitely” will play in Wednesday’s preseason opener. "I don’t want to jinx myself, but working with these guys icing it and just doing the right things and getting the right treatment, hopefully I’ll be back,” Harden said. Harden said he is trying to keep up while sidelined by watching and finding different ways he can incorporate himself into the offense. He’s also asking coaches how he might be able to take advantage of certain situations he sees playing out on the court. "Once I get back on the court I’ll get more of a feel of where I’ll fit in at,” Harden said.
CAMP INVITES PERFORMING WELLThe four players in the Thunder’s training camp on non-guaranteed contracts have played well and have helped make the first week competitive and lively, Brooks said. Brooks didn’t say which players were separating themselves out of a group that includes Michael Ruffin, Ryan Bowen, Tre Kelley and Mike Harris, but the coach did say that neither player has left a negative impression. With the Thunder already at 14 guaranteed contracts, only one player can make the opening-night roster. "I think they’re all doing well,” Brooks said. "I know it’s a tough position, looking at the spots we have on the team. But their job is to take every day and make an impact and leave an impression on the coaching staff. And they’ve done that. They bring energy. They make the camp very competitive along with our other guys. Not one guy has stood out in a bad way. Everybody’s really focused on improving and showing their fierce competitive attitudes.”
NEW ASSISTANTS BLENDING WELLMaurice Cheeks and Rex Kalamian, the Thunder’s two new assistant coaches, have jelled well with the team, Brooks said. "All of our coaches have done a great job,” Brooks said. "I’m happy. I’m thankful that I have everybody with me helping me out.”